Seamless-Stone

Seamless-Stone specialises in hand crafted polished concrete kitchen worktops, concrete architectural furniture and decorative concrete objects. We are based in the New Forest. And we supply throughout the UK.

We make things of value and beauty and in an individual way. Choosing to make something by hand forces us to be proud of what we make, or strive till we achieve that pride.  It’s this pride that makes our work worthwhile for both us and you.

Click here for more on our polished concrete kitchen worktops. We also combine wood and steel with our coloured concretes to create a range of furniture. So your imagination is the only limit.

Browse through our gallery of past projects and give yourself an idea of what we do. But don’t be limited by what you see – the magic of concrete is its range of uses.  With high-performance fibre-reinforced concretes we make the seemingly impossible possible. From our 15mm thin load-bearing worktops to our free form shapes.

Climate Impact

We always use green concrete to reduce our carbon footprint.  Sustainability is key.  You might want something original, but you don’t want to feel like a carbon criminal doing so.  Our local cement manufacturer has a history of proven research to reduce carbon emissions, and has a 30% lower footprint than competitors.  The concretes we produce make extensive use of carbon sequestered pozzolans.  These both strengthen our worktops, and reduce our climate impact.

Precision

Exactness is a prerequisite. Our process starts with a design brief from the client. This is often an iterative process with samples and designs and CAD drawings. Thus eliminating the risk of misfitting furniture. We then meticulously fabricate a mould or formwork to spray the concrete piece into. We design a recipe for the concrete, individually made for the specific requirements of each project. This will match the type of cement to the appropriate fibres, polymers, plasticizers and pozzolans. The demoulding, post-pour-processing, sealing and transport are all time-consuming and require equal care to the fabrication process.

Prices

Our prices will typically be significantly lower than an equivalent in granite. A linear meter of a grey concrete worktop, 30mm thick will cost from as little as £200.  More to the point the touch, look and feel of concrete is more individual in a kitchen setting. We typically create pieces that are simply not possible from single blocks of stone. 100mm integrated edges with hollow cores or 1000mm integrated seamless waterfall edges, for instance. 

concrete architectural furniture, concrete benchwhite polished concrete kitchen worktop in productionwelded steel formwork for concrete architectural furnituremore polished concrete kitchen worktopssteel and concrete occasional tables  concrete hearth being produced in the workshopdecorative concrete business card holders exposed glass concrete samplespolished concrete kitchen worktopsconcrete bar projectdouble waterfall table

go to our gallery

go to pinterest to get some polished concrete kitchen worktop inspiration

Concrete Kitchen Worktop

Concrete kitchen worktops may not be new but they remain largely unknown in the traditional UK kitchen market. And they are the best way to make your kitchen space individual, whilst giving you a cool, sophisticated look. Other worktop choices, for instance, won’t be able to give you 5m long seamless spans or such deep integrated edges. We also make worktops with integrated seamless vertical waterfall edges. Cascading seamlessly down to your kitchen floor, you won’t find this with other worktop materials.

Pros and Cons of a concrete kitchen worktop

There are no other materials that give possibilities for such a customisable appearance (colour, seamlessness, thicknesses, waterfalls, inlays, etc.). Concrete worktops will give you an unmistakable cool and solid feel.  Concrete is a manmade material, but its constituent parts are naturally occurring rocks. Thus, hues and nuances will not be perfectly homogenous, like granites.

We can provide different appearances in our concrete surfaces. Granites and marbles have natural veins that you can select in a stone warehouse. We are able to recreate some of that natural randomness. Different mineral components of the cement come through to the surface’s appearance. With pigments, we can offer you almost any colour or tone you are after. Polishing exposes aggregates of different sizes and colours and shapes to appear on your worktop’s surface. You can have a solid brilliant-white block or a more industrial naturally random grey concrete or any colour and tone between.

Individuality

Shaping a worktop to your kitchen space is a significant upside of GFRC (Glass Fibre Reinforced Concrete) sprayed concrete.  We can create vertical waterfall edges seamlessly connecting your kitchen floor with your worktop in a single slab.  We can create backsplashes and overhanging apron edges as a seamless part of the worktop. Worktops can have integrated drainage grooves. You can choose your own pigments or veined concrete patterns. Quirks like stainless steel inlays or even fibre optic cables can be set into the work surface.  Kitchen drawers and doors can be clad to match the worktop in thin concrete, light enough to hang on a door hinge, solid enough to provide the industrial look you might be after.

Another appeal of our worktops is the ease with which you can choose the thickness of your concrete kitchen worktop. Think of trying to find a 10cm thick granite worktop. We have installed bartops and kitchen worktops with 100mm and 80mm integrated apron edges. Whilst the main slab is only 25mm thick, to save weight, the edges are solid and integrated – giving a massive and bold feel to your very own design.

Sealants

We use high-performance cement. This produces concrete with far fewer naturally occurring microscopic capillaries than normal in concrete and stone. When cast and demoulded we apply a concrete densifier, typically lithium silicate. This will latch on to any non-hydrated calcium molecule and create calcium silicate hydroxides. Further concrete-ifying the remaining unhydrated molecules from the cement. Fewer surface capillaries mean fewer stain traps.

The next stage is the application of a specialist synthetic sealant. The result here is that each layer of sealant is less diluted in water than the one preceding – allowing single sealant molecules to float down to the bottom of any surface capillaries. Subsequent passes of the sealant will then fill these microscopic capillaries with multiple bonded sealant molecules to ensure a perfectly sealed worktop surface.

This sealing approach provides your worktop with years of hardwearing and carefree usage. As with natural stone, it is not a great idea to leave stains for more than a couple of hours on your concrete. Vinegar and beetroot can penetrate the sealant if left for more than twenty-four hours. We typically recommend a reseal on outside worktops every three years. With inside worktops, in a normally used family kitchen, every six years. At any point, we can carry out topical repairs and resealing easily. We can provide you with details of how to carry this out yourself if you are of a hands-on disposition. For a more insider-view, try here.

Procedure

  1. A customer will make initial contact, asking if Seamless-Stone can make a certain type of worktop or piece of furniture, and if so what sort of price for a certain size, and how long to manufacture and install.
  2. If you are interested in our initial offer, we will discuss options. Thicknesses, shapes, edges, drainage, cut-outs, backsplashes, drop-down waterfalls, upstands, etc. There will be a discussion about colours and tones too, and perhaps indicative samples will be sought.  Depending on the size and number of samples, these will be delivered for free.  We will firm up pricing at this stage.
  3. 10% of the agreed price is requested at this stage.  The price will include tile-size colour match samples, a reference slab (see point 4 below), on-site measuring, computer modelling, fabrication and installation.  We will break these items down, and will happily work with others, should you wish to use your own installers and draughtsmen.  The quickest a worktop can be produced from the payment of the first deposit is two weeks.
  4. We will cast a two-foot square reference slab of the worktop in our workshop. A large sample will show nuances that appear in cement (especially grey cement) not visible in sample tiles. Nuances which appear within batches, even when using identical processes, recipes, humidity and temperature in the controlled workshop environment.
  5. Seamless-Stone will come to visit the property, once the kitchen units are in place, and make precise measurements from which a 3-d computer model, using readily available software (“Sketchup”) will be used.  If a customer wants to see the worktop shape in 3D before fabrication and make modifications, now is the time to get involved.
  6. Fabrication is next, and this is described elsewhere on this site.
  7. The installation will occur after we have sealed the concrete in our workshop

Pricing

Once we have agreed upon the specification you are after, Seamless-Stone will make a mould or moulds for your project.  This is the most time-consuming part of the process. Precision and complexity require time and thoroughness.  We will check these moulds against the existing plans and positioning inside your kitchen before the pour.  The pour is actually more of a sprayed face-coat and a poured backing-coat. The two stages must take place rapidly within a few minutes of each other.  Curing happens over one week in humidity and heat controlled areas of our workshop. The sealing takes a further three days to cure before the worktop is ready to install in your home.

Our products compare very favourably in price with stone and man-made alternatives. A 30mm thick grey concrete kitchen worktop at a standard 600mm deep will be as little as £200 per meter length. A lip, or an apron edge, will increase that price. We deliver and install throughout the UK. Typically we ask for 10% once the design is confirmed, 80% on installation, and 10% a week later.

Seamless-Stone stands behind the quality of its work. Our products come with a lifetime guarantee. We will come and reseal your worktop after five years, and cracks or blemishes that occur will be repaired or replaced by us for free if they weren’t caused by unsuitable use. If there is any damage, that could be attributed to misuse, we will most likely be able to fix the worktop without any great drama. GFRC is a product that will outlast us.

http://www.concretenetwork.com/concrete/countertops/comparison.html

https://www.mumsnet.com/Talk/property/1891048-Polished-concrete-kitchen-worktops

https://uk.pinterest.com/explore/concrete-kitchen-countertops/

Concrete Furniture

Concrete furniture is, for the most part, what we call immovable concrete work, that we make in situ – so anything from benches to stairs, to fixed tables. The work tends to be heavy and heavily reliant on careful and creative formwork. The right concrete mix design then ensures that the piece perfectly recreates the contours of the formwork. We make bespoke concrete furniture pieces only for you, to your design to our standards.

When moulding the treads and risers of stairs, we typically use phenolic plywood boards. With judicious use of steel rebar and high-performance concrete and GFRC, we are able to obtain load-bearing support slabs at less than 25mm thick. When making double-curved garden or street benches we will more typically use thin sheet steel. When but-welded these will produce a seamless contour for the concrete to form against.

Another use of GFRC is in architectural cladding. From the enormous sculptural qualities of Zaha Hadid projects across the globe to geometric wall panels in boutique hotel lobbies. There are endless ways that GFRC can be used to give texture and idiosyncrasy to any built environment.

Shower trays, shower walls, planters, reception desks, lamps, seats, benches, hearths, board-room tables, barbecue tables, fire pits, sun loungers, fencing, concrete wall tiles, concrete floor tiles. We have used GFRC with great aesthetic success across the architectural spectrum.

We also make smaller concrete architectural furniture: tables of various sizes and shapes, planters, hearths, sinks, stools, chairs and benches. Go to our gallery to see some of our examples of this genre.

Alternatively, go to pinterest to gorge on beautiful projects from around the internet.

Why? How? What? of GFRC concrete

Why GFRC concrete?

History

At Seamless-Stone we are one of the first local fabricators of GFRC (Glass-Fibre Reinforced Concrete) bespoke polished concrete worktops and other pieces in southern England. The technology started in Stalinist Russia, as Moscow raced to compete with the New York skyline. After the war, Soviet scientists started to experiment with fibre-glass style reinforcements. Initially unsuccessfully, (not appreciating the need to zirconium-plate the multi-strand fibres to protect them from concrete’s natural alkalinity). The Americans took over GFRC’s development. This was especially true in concrete’s heartland of Chicago, achieving greater and greater load strengths. Using more and more advanced procedures and additives in concrete construction.

Civil engineers in the UK have used GFRC concrete since the late sixties. Principally for functional purposes, like leave-in-place shuttering for concrete pours in bridges. This uses GFRC’s strength and skinniness for a practical purpose. Civil engineers use GFRC concrete more commonly than kitchen worktops. Decorative building cladding (all of the major British architects have enjoyed its versatility and strength). Lightweight and large spanning domes and seemingly impossibly slender arches. In the right hands, the marvel that is GFRC can be employed for domestic enhancements. It has decorative versatility and unrivalled strength for projects such as stairs, cantilevered kitchen worktops and bars.

Carbon footprint

Concrete may be man-made, but its constituent parts are naturally occurring rocks. Choosing our worktops will leave you a smaller carbon footprint than shipping in granite from Brazil or ceramic worktops from Spain. We also use an advanced pozzolan which is a by-product from steel production blast furnaces, again enhancing the percentage of recycled inputs into our product. Sustainability is more than lip service for us. We minimise our waste and use our moulds as often as possible. We seek to live a low carbon footprint existence at home and at work.

Sustainability

It is easy to speak a fair amount of nonsense when analysing the relative environmental impacts of products. There is no escaping that cement produces CO2 in its production. Constituent rocks are heated at over 1000 oC to become cement. This costs. However, when local production and reduced transport is factored in, we are confident our product will be the greenest of your choices.

Sequestering carbon dioxide in cement production is an exciting development. Although not yet mainstream – this is a proven technology. Our cement provider is the most local plant for our workshop, which reduces transport emissions and costs. We are also in discussions with local universities, on the south coast, exploring graphene fibres as an alternative to the Japanese zirconium-plated glass fibres we use. Thereby, hoping to reduce our carbon footprint further. Safety and availability of graphene additives currently prohibit us using graphene, but this will change soon.

We also expect that our pieces will weigh half that of our wet-cast, polished-concrete counterparts, thereby saving materials and reducing our carbon footprint further. GFRC’s superior strength over standard concrete will allow this reduced thickness on our pieces. Aesthetically this thinness can be compensated for by having deep, integrated apron edge. This gives the appearance of a typical 5cm thick kitchen worktop without the weight or bulk. Our bespoke polished concrete worktops are the only product that allows these seamless apron edges. Quartzite and Corian will have a seam. If you want thinness to rival Dekton, we can match that too in our polished concrete kitchen worktops.

How?

Magic Moulding

The preparation and manufacture of our moulds is a painstaking task. For instance, in our bespoke polished concrete worktops, we use silicon flexible moulds for draining board shapes and complex 3-D forms. Sinks and other double-curved or free-form shapes require fibreglass moulds. Super smooth furniture board, glass and perspex are all used in creating blemishless finished products. The shape of the mould is akin to a negative of the finished product, and planning will be needed to carefully construct complex forms.

Curing or Drying? Hydration or Evaporation?

Concrete requires time to cure. The water used to activate the powdered cement is less than the water used to create a workable concrete mix. A 10kg concrete slab, when fully cured, might be made of 8kg of powdered initial ingredients, and 2kg of water. The cement and pozzolans hydrate and change their chemical compounds by acquiring H2O from the water. But, to make the 10kg finished concrete table, perhaps a further 2kg of water was added to the mix to make it sufficiently malleable to work. Thus of the original 8kg of dry original ingredients and 4kg of water, 2kgs of water evaporate. 8kg of dry mix hydrates with 2kg of water to form 10kg of GFRC.

Careful concrete curing is crucial in obtaining the correct strength and consistency. Too much water in the initial mix will result in a separation of heavy aggregates from lighter cements. But too little water will make the mortar unworkable.  Uncontrolled evaporation will result in insufficient hydration and greatly reduce final strength.

Seamless-Stone uses a concrete forming technique knows as GFRC concrete – Glass Fibre Reinforced Concrete for its polished concrete kitchen worktops and concrete architectural furniture. This is not the same as polished concrete. Generally, there are two techniques for creating decorative concrete structures – the two-step mist coat and GFRC backing coat, and the more traditional cast concrete with a wet polished finish. Ours is the former.

In essence, this process uses glass fibres to strengthen the concrete, allowing extraordinarily thin concrete slabs. This creates a weight that is light enough to be used as furniture – for tables, chairs and kitchens.

What?

GFRC or Polished Concrete?

Polished concrete is the name for the more straightforward process of pouring concrete as a slab and smoothing down the finished surface with wet polishing. Unless you intend to have glass fibres showing in your finished surface, you can only make polished concrete products without glass fibre concrete. Thus your slabs will be limited in their strength with consequently increased thicknesses (i.e. greater than 1cm thin). Also, it’ll be an impossibility to produce seamless moulded surfaces such as integrated draining boards, sinks and cascade vertical drops. The upside of a polished concrete product is that it can be poured on-site. However, the wet polishing process is a messy business and is not something to undertake in a lived-in house.

Spray coat and backing coats

The other most obvious consequence of this process is the super smooth finishes achievable. Perfectly planar forms without blemishes result from the process of spraying a mist coat of mortar on to a precisely prepared mould. This mist coat is reinforced with the zirconium-coated glass fibred backing concrete. This provides strength without the bulk associated with steel-reinforced concrete. A traditional cast concrete approach can be made at the client’s premises but will require significant post-production machining which will be wet and messy. Our methodology means each project needs to be made at our workshop. But corresponding advantages of using glass fibre and moulds means that superior strength and more planar finishes are achievable.

Magic Ingredients

The choice and mix of various fine sands, pozzolans, polymers, plasticizers and cement, as well as fine fibres and poly filament fibres, requires expertise. The process of pneumatic and manual application of the concrete into the mould needs care and experience.

Sophisticated polymers bind the multifilament zirconium glass fibres. Lithium silicates bind to calcium hydroxides on surface curing The technology behind our bespoke polished concrete worktops is not for the work of a building contractor. This is a material to be adored like stone but thought of as an endless design opportunity.

We have discussed the choice and use of each individual ingredient in our GFRC at length with each supplier. These esoteric conversations are part of our passion and perhaps a slightly geeky fascination in our subject matter. It is what allows us to take care of the background and allows you to enjoy the end result.

Cement

The invention of cement may be over five thousand years old. Perhaps the Egyptians used cement in the massive blocks that make up the Giza pyramids. Others have pointed to the beautiful domed roof of the Parthenon in Rome. Romans used cement for its amazingly large 2000-year-old span.

Lime and a pozzolan (a cementitious addition) in the form of volcanic ash were likely the main ingredients in the Parthenon’s concrete. This same combination also made Roman aqueducts waterproof.

Neither structure uses what we know today as Portland cement. The patent for this came about in 1827, on the Isle of Portland, when some brickmakers were experimenting with mortars. Traditionally, for hundreds, if not thousands of years, limestone needed around 600 degrees Celsius to heat. With water and carbon dioxide and oxygen, this became lime mortar. Thence, on a building site, with the addition of the aggregate and water, back to a solid. Have a look here to share our nerdy cement enjoyment.

Portland Cement

The genius of the invention of Portland cement was to incorporate silicate-bearing rocks into cement. Calcium silicate hydrates are the magic compound in Portland cement, as opposed to calcium hydrates in lime. These silicates are many times harder than their lime counterparts. However to create Portland cement from its constituent rocks a far greater heat than that used to process lime is required. Something closer to 1200 oC.

Thus the inventors of Portland cement were the beneficiaries of the skills available in their time – the inventions of the industrial revolution, and large furnaces.

Today, the GFRC we use for our bespoke polished concrete worktops, at Seamless-Stone is not a standard building contractor’s cement. It is a specialist cement without lime filler, which has a much higher compression strength than builders’ cement.

I wish I were a chemist, to properly enjoy the science behind cement. Here’s an insight to show how quickly this becomes esoteric.

go to our pinterest site to see various concrete pieces that have inspired us

go to our gallery to see some of our recent work

Contact

We’re based in the New Forest, just minutes from the coast – you’re welcome to come and visit – Hetty is always on hand to give a warm welcome.  Just let us know before coming over, to make sure she’s not having a siesta.

info@seamless-stone.com

www.seamless-stone.com

07455147983